Celebrate Earth Day

How do you help the environment every day? Here are some of the interesting ways that staff at Friends of the Chicago River does it. 


Annette Anderson, Volunteer and Events Coordinator

“I definitely wash out zip locks. More than ever I’m really thinking about plastics in purchasing, choosing unpackaged lettuce and buying things in aluminum or glass instead if possible. I also joined the Chicago Environmentalists group on Facebook.  There are posts on where to recycle things, news on climate change policies, native plants, water/energy efficiency, up cycling and so much more. I’ve found it really encouraging to see how many people are bringing sustainability into their lives, it’s a good resource and reminder to always try to work towards making my carbon footprint as small as possible." 


Adam Flickinger, Planning Director

"The first thing I did when I bought my first condo was to replace all of the light fixtures with integrated LED ones.” Adam points to data at the climaegroup.org as a good resource for information about the benefits if LED lighting. According to the Climate Group, LED lighting achieves energy savings of 50-70%+ compared to the old technologies.


Margaret Frisbie, Executive Director

“At our house we work to reduce our environmental footprint in all kinds of ways including by keeping a bucket near the shower to capture warming water for use by our dogs and plants. Our house is on a thermostat so we never waste the heat. If we have to use them at all, we wash and reuse plastics bags. We use cloth napkins and old towels and T-shirts for sponges and dish rags. Our garden is full of native plants that capture stormwater and benefit birds, bees, and butterflies. And we keep chickens to reduce our food miles. Last week the flock increased to nine!”


Chelsey Grassfield, Policy Specialist

“I recycle old holiday cards. People usually don’t write on the part with the picture, so I can cut the card in half and then write a note on the back. It becomes a holiday post card. I haven’t bought trash bags in years; I reuse all the containers that my food comes in such as bread bags, re-sealable granola bags, the plastic film that toilet paper comes in, amazon package bags, etc. They obviously don’t fit much so it’s more trips to the garbage, but I’ve gotten used to it. Public transit is of course already an earth-friendly choice for transportation, but I would also run home from the office once or twice a week during spring – fall (when we went into the office). Even on the few occasions I’ve had to go in during the pandemic, I usually run home."


Kim Olsen-Clark, Director of Development

"Our building is very eco-friendly. The art in our building is made from repurposed products such as paint cans. We reuse, recycle, and repurpose everything that we can. We have a reuse-repurpose bookcase where people “donate” items. Printers, vases, coffee cups, etc. We walk everywhere or use public transportation. We switched our plastic containers to Pyrex or Corning glassware. I’m looking forward to taking my glassware to restaurants for leftovers again. We hardly buy paper towels since we use old T-shirts as spill rags.   We’ve said bye-bye to single use hand soap bottles or buying replacement soap in plastic bottles since I’m using tablets now to make foam soap in a glass bottle. We haven’t bought Ziploc bags for a long time since we wash and reuse until it leaks. If a store product is offered in glass or plastic, we always opt for glass.  Aluminum over plastic.”


Tim Touhy, Director of Communications

 “A friend’s employer coordinates the donation of plastic caps and lids to a local youth ministry that makes them into plastic benches. So I’m always noticing plastic caps and lids and have a plastic-cap bin under the sink; the plastic bottle or container always goes into recycle too. I also recycle envelopes that come in the mail and other paper products by donating them to a local church that gets paid by a recycle company for every pound of paper the church recycles."